What is Gluten? An Overview

what is gluten and gluten-freeToday, the term “gluten-free” gets passed around casually in conversation or while walking through the grocery store, but what does this actually mean? What is gluten? Gluten is the name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. This protein helps foods maintain their shape, while acting as a glue.

Some people have an allergy to gluten. People with a sensitivity or allergy to gluten are advised to avoid foods that contain this protein. The big three gluten contributors are wheat, barley and rye. Many common foods contain these three ingredients including: breads, baked goods, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, beer and many more. Gluten may also be found in certain products including lipstick and lip glass, nutritional supplements, vitamins, medications, and things like play-dough.

People with a gluten allergy are commonly diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder affecting people who are genetically predisposed to a gluten allergy. For those with this disease, ingesting gluten often leads to small intestine damage and other distinct symptoms. This disorder is extremely common and it is estimated that 1 out of 100 people are affected by Celiac’s disease worldwide.

For those affected by Celiac’s disease, the general treatment includes a strong, lifelong adherence to gluten-free foods. Consuming foods rich in gluten can potentially damage the small intestine and cause a variety of other health problems those with a gluten allergy. While it may seem like a huge section of food options are removed from a person’s diet when a gluten allergy is present, there are an increasing number of gluten-free options available.

Maintaining a Gluten-Free Diet

A gluten-free diet tends to involve consuming many unprocessed ingredients that are found naturally. These foods include: fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and poultry, fish, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts. With the variety of gluten-free products being sold in supermarkets, there are also more gluten-free substitutes available as well. This even includes gluten-free breads and bread mixes, bagels, muffins, crackers, pizza, pasta and other products that are typically loaded with gluten.

For those with a gluten allergy, the Celiac Disease Foundation provides a huge amount of helpful information, education and tips.

While gluten seems to be ubiquitous in the food world, there are an increasing number of excellent substitutions for this protein. Even for people who are not allergic to gluten, consuming more gluten-free products is a great way to avoid unnecessary carbohydrates and sugary items.

For those interested in healthy weight loss, a gluten-free meal replacement shake that is high in protein and nutrition and low in calories is an excellent option to try. Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC offers a great gluten-free weight loss program. For more information, call Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663 and ask for Tisha or Dorothy.